The Cleveland Browns have bolstered their pass rush with a player they tried, but failed to get, last year.
As first reported by Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, and already confirmed by the team, Jadeveon Clowney has joined the Browns on a one-year deal worth up to $10 million. The contract includes $8 million in guarantees with the remaining $2 million coming via incentives.
“We’re excited to add Jadeveon to our defensive line,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said in a statement. He’s a disruptive force that will help us against the run and the pass. We’ve been able to make some nice additions to our defense throughout free agency and we are looking forward to getting to work, so we can improve our team.”
“We love his relentless style of play,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said in a statement. “He’s one of the more disruptive players in the game and we think he’s going to add an element of ruggedness along our defensive line and will pair nicely with many of the guys we have on the roster already. The other thing we love about Jadeveon is his versatility, his ability to play all across the front and impact the game regardless of his alignment.”
Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in 2014, signed the deal after passing his physical on Wednesday. The physical was part of his second free agent to Cleveland during this free agency cycle. A year ago, he was on the Browns’ radar and visited the team, but ultimately signed with the Tennessee Titans. By all accounts, the Browns offered Clowney the most money last offseason, as well as a “competitive” multiyear deal.
In adding Clowney, Cleveland now has the 2014 No. 1 overall pick and the 2017 No. 1 pick (Myles Garrett) on its defensive line. Earlier in the offseason, the Browns added ex-Falcon Takk McKinley on a one-year, $4.25 million deal to add to the defensive line.
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The Browns are in a prime position to maximize the 28-year-old Clowney. According to ESPN, Clowney has been the third-most double-teamed edge rusher in the NFL over the last three seasons. With the Browns, there’s no reality where teams decide to double Clowney over Garrett — thus freeing up Clowney to go one-on-one more often. That sounds like a recipe for success for Cleveland’s defense.
Aside from the upcoming NFL Draft, the Browns are likely done making significant moves in free agency. To pay Clowney and preserve some flexibility, there is likely to be a restructuring or an outright release of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Richardson is due $13.1 million next year with Cleveland being able to save $11.5 if he’s cut or traded. The Browns are thin at defensive tackle, so a restructured contract would seem more likely for the 30-year-old Richardson.